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Conflicts in the Middle East

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Israel Becomes a State

The movement to settle Jews in Palestine began in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These Jews believed that Palestine belonged to them because it was their home 3,000 years ago. But Muslims had lived there for the last 1,300 years.

After World War I, Britain took control of the area. The British found that Jews and Muslims did not live together peacefully. In 1917, Britain said it supported the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine. This statement is known as the Balfour Declaration.

After World War II, the British left the area. The United Nations divided the land into two parts. One part was set aside for the Palestinians. The other part was set aside part for Jews.

Islamic countries voted against the plan. The Palestinians opposed it. Many countries backed the idea of a separate Jewish state. They wanted to help make up for the suffering Jews had experienced in World War II. On May 14, 1948, the Jewish people in Palestine declared the existence of the Jewish state of Israel.

How was Israel created and how did it cause conflict?
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Israel and the Arab States in Conflict

On May 15, 1948, six Islamic nations invaded Israel. Israel won the war in a few months with strong support from the United States. This war was the first of many Arab–Israeli wars.

Another war was started by the Suez Crisis. The crisis began in 1956 when a group of Egyptian army officers seized control of the government of Egypt from Britain. The British and French had kept control of the Suez Canal. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the new leader of Egypt, attacked the canal. The Israeli army helped the British and French keep control. The peace settlement that followed gave the canal to Egypt anyway.

The Six-Day War broke out in 1967 when Egypt and other nations threatened Israel. Israel defeated Egypt, Iran, Jordan, and Syria in just a week. Israel's success brought new areas under its control.

The next war, in 1973, began when Egypt, led by Anwar Sadat, and its allies launched a surprise attack. At first, Arab forces won some of the territory lost in 1967. Israel, led by its prime minister, Golda Meir, fought back and won control of much of the territory it had lost.

How did Arab states respond to the creation of Israel?
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Efforts at Peace

In 1977, Egyptian leader Sadat signed a peace agreement with Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. In this agreement, Israel gave the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt. In return, Egypt recognized Israel as a nation. Egypt was the first Islamic country to give this recognition. This agreement became known as the Camp David Accords. It was the first signed agreement between Israel and an Arab country. This angered many Arabs. Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

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Peace Slips Away

Despite many efforts, Israel and the Palestinians have not made peace. Palestinians living in Israel dislike Israeli rule. They want a nation of their own.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), led by Yasir Arafat, became a leading group in the struggle for self-rule. During the 1970s and 1980s, the military arm of the PLO made many attacks on Israel. Israel responded by invading Lebanon to attack bases of the PLO. In the late 1980s, many Palestinians in Israel began a revolt called the intifada. The intifada continued into the 1990s.

In the early 1990s, the two sides took steps toward peace. Israel agreed to give Palestinians control of an area called the Gaza Strip and of the town of Jericho. The agreement was known as the Oslo Peace Accords. The Israeli leader who signed this agreement, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated in 1995. He was killed by a Jewish extremist who opposed giving in to the Palestinians. In 2003, the two sides began working on a new peace plan pushed by U.S. leaders.

How have the Paelstinians been in conflict with Israel?
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